'Mad Men' Season 5, Episode 9 Recap: Horns Of Plenty

  @EllenKilloran on May 14 2012 2:09 PM

Fat Betty is back in this week's Dark Shadows, and her forced storyline is starting to feel as ridiculous as the fat suit. Betty is now a regular on the Weight Watchers circuit, takes surreptitious hits from a whipped cream container (for the actual cream, not the whippets), and relishes an orgasmic bite from a Thanksgiving dinner plate that looks like a caricature of what a Thanksgiving dinner plate for a desperately dieting housewife should look like.

That said, while Betty's weight gain is aided by obvious prosthetics, her pain and jealousy are real -- and understandable. While she mopes around the dark suburban castle waiting for her boring husband to come home from his boring job and bore her, Megan enjoys sweeping city views from her penthouse, an (evidently) unlimited shopping budget, the envy of her peers and -- at least temporarily -- a budding friendship with Sally Draper.

Which is where Betty draws the line. Determined to spoil Megan and Sally's chummy study group, Betty oh-so-casually drops a bomb on Sally as she's preparing to hand in the family tree project Megan helped her with: Don't forget your father's first wife, Betty urges Sally, who initially thinks her mother is talking about herself (a fair assumption). When a shocked Sally presses for more, Betty passes off the job to Megan, claiming to be surprised she and Don hadn't told her about Anna Draper before.

No stranger to who, me? machinations, Megan is hip to Betty's sabotage, but that doesn't mean she's prepared to answer Sally's questions about Anna (for those just tuning in, she was the wife of the real Don Draper and eventually one of Don/Dick Whitman's closest friends. She died from cancer in Season 4 -- and Don was reeling from the loss when he fell in love with Megan.)

Megan holds her own, and provides just enough details to satisfy Sally (they married to help each other out), saving the juiciest parts for Don to never tell his daughter. But as Sally stubbornly reminds him later, she's not some dumb little girl -- having quickly done the math that Anna's home was the one they visited last year in California, and remembering how people there called her father Dick.

Once again, Megan is a step ahead of Betty -- she convinces Don to swallow his urge to chew his ex-wife out over the phone. If you call her, you're giving her exactly what she wanted: the thrill of having poisoned us from 50 miles away.

Sally overhears this and she, too, refuses to give her mother satisfaction -- providing no hint of the temporary turmoil Betty caused. Daddy showed me pictures and they spoke very fondly of her, she says with all the smugness a 13-year-old can muster, before turning on her heels and leaving her mother to throw a mini-tantrum in the kitchen.

In short, everyone is awful.

And some -- namely Roger Sterling -- are outrageously anti-Semetic, too. He solicits Michael Ginsberg, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's resident Jew, to ghostwrite some pitches for Manischewitz. They make wine for Jews, he tells Ginsberg. And now they want to make wine for normal people -- like me.

Of course, Sterling insists SCDP's rising creative genius stay out of view (for a small fee), but he does invite his Semetic estranged wife to join him and the prospective clients for dinner.  This, for those of us who only realized how much we liked Jane when Roger was finally dumping her, was a welcome surprise -- which was sweetened by watching Roger sweat over the client's son hitting on her.

But we wish that Jane had channeled her inner Joan when Roger insisted on a late-night visit to her new apartment. She was doing so well! And while Roger's seduction -- which tarnishes her new home with memories she had tried to escape - was thoughtless and insensitive, he's never pretended to be anything but. Jane had an opportunity to make him eat his heart out just a little bit; instead, she broke her own all over again.

Since Season 5 began, we've been primed for a power struggle between Peggy and Ginsberg -- the most promising copywriter at SDCP since Peggy came along. But so far, Peggy is still stubbornly insisting on giving credit where credit is due: Just as she seemed sincere in her praise of Megan's coup on the Heinz account, she gracefully steps aside when Don and Ginsberg's Snoball pitches make the shortlist ahead of hers.

Don, not so much. Perhaps for having stared too long at the devil in his Snoball's Chance in Hell pitch (which took him all night to come up with), Don accidentally leaves Ginsberg's designs in the cab. But all's well that ends well, he insists when Ginsberg confronts him - the client bought it, and that's what counts.  

But Ginsberg thinks Don should feel as ashamed of himself as his employee does of him. I feel bad for you, Ginbserg says, to which Don icily replies, I don't think about you at all.

Outfit of the week:  A tie between the glitzy gown Jane wears to dinner with Roger and the delightfully frumpy white nightgown Betty wears while Henry feeds her a bite of his steak.

Line of the week: Am I the only one who can drink and work at the same time?  -- Peggy Olsen

Inanimate character of the week: The can of cranberry sauce Megan dumps in a bowl on Thanksgiving morning. But what exactly is the sauce saying? Even those who can afford the best of everything know that nothing beats cranberry sauce from the can? OR, What else does Megan do behind the scenes that we don't know about?

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